Animal Kingdom Lodge Review

Disney for PreschoolersEarlier this month, I got to check one thing off my “Disney Bucket List”, which was staying at the Animal Kingdom Lodge. I cannot begin to tell you how excited I was to stay there. My stay at the Animal Kingdom Lodge, and my review of it, was part of a complimentary 4 day stay for #DisneyKids. I traveled down to Disney with my preschooler and toddler and took a stronger look at Disney in the eyes of this age group (and us parents that travel with them!) 

Animal Kingdom Lodge Review

Staying on Disney property really does take the headache out of many head pounding problems traveling with young kids can bring. When you land at the airport, your luggage is already on the way to your resort when you take the Disney Resort Magical Express bus. You don’t have to rush to baggage claim, and then try to handle your copious amounts of suitcases and the kids at the same time. {Such a luxury.} Just make sure to reserve a month in advance of your trip so your luggage tickets will be sent to you at home, so you can take advantage of this service. If for some reason, you forget or don’t do it, just bring your baggage claim ticket to the Magical Express Bus Ticketing Counter. They will arrange to pick it up for you. Make sure you have a small carryon with essentials since your luggage probably won’t be in your room until three hours after you arrive at the resort. Make sure to have bathing suits, a change of clothes, formula, bottles, that sort of thing in that piece, so you can enjoy your arrival!

charlenechronicles_Disney_Suitcase

After traveling, the kids are tired (and so are we, right?) so not having to deal with a rental car and car seats is another luxury when you take the Magical Express Bus. Just hand the stroller to the bus driver and board. The seats are generously sized and soft, and a Disney video is playing. So one of two things will happen. The kids will be entertained or they will be asleep. Either of which is a bonus for us parents!

disney magical express bus

Animal Kingdom Lodge Rooms

When we arrived at the Animal Kingdom Lodge, it was just breathtaking. The kids loved seeing the animals outside our window. While they pointed at the giraffes and the birds, we got to unpack our carryon bags in peace. (Another luxury.)

But of course, there is the TV. Not that I am a big fan of TV per se, but there is the Disney Junior channel and my kids love watching Doc McStuffins. So they were happy to watch a show while we got ready to go out or go to bed.

My one parenting suggestion is to ask for a room on the main floor near the lobby of the Animal Kingdom Lodge. You will still get plenty of privacy, but the way the Lodge is designed (like a horseshoe), you could have a long walk at the end of a busy Disney day if you don’t request a room in that location. So, in my opinion, it is better to be closer to the action of the lobby, pools, buses and more, when you have little ones, so you can minimize walking. You’ll get enough of that at the Parks and at the end of a long day or heading back early for a nap, you’ll appreciate being in your room lickity split. No worries, you’ll still get great views of the ‘Savanna’ too when you request that side of the resort.

animal kingdom lodge pictures

The only downside to staying at the Animal Kingdom Lodge is that the rooms seemed pretty small when you account for luggage, a pack-n-play, two small children, and two adults. I find that the suites at the Art of Animation (you can see my review here) or the rooms at the Contemporary Hotel to be more generously sized. However, if you have children who are sleeping in beds, the room size is definitely manageable since a crib or pack-n-play won’t be taking up precious space. Another bonus is that there is not a long walk to the Disney buses that take you to the parks. If you stay at the Contemporary or the Art of Animation, you have a pretty long hike to get to the bus. At the Animal Kingdom Lodge, especially if your room is close to the lobby, it is a pretty quick walk all-in-all, which is a valuable (kid-friendly) perk.

Animal Kingdom Lodge Activities for Kids

There are a lot of daily activities going on at Animal Kingdom Lodge, so you’ll definitely not sacrifice the kids’ happiness (or your sanity) if you stay at the Lodge for the day to take a break from the parks, or head back early from the parks. If you have never been to Disney before with kids under 5 years of age, be forewarned that they will need some downtime. Otherwise, you will have some really cranky kids. Disney is the most fantastic thing there is, but it can be over stimulating. Plus, there is a lot of walking involved. Even if you do have a stroller, you will find that you will be parking the stroller often, and the kids will be walking to the rides (and standing in the lines waiting for them.) So there little legs will get some wear and tear. Taking a ‘day off’ to chill in the pool is a good physical and mental break for this age group. Thus, finding a resort that has a lot to enjoy on your Disney day off is key.

At the Animal Kingdom Lodge, there is a playground, lots of animal viewing areas, a huge pool with a slide, easy entry for the younger kids, and even a baby splash pool.

They also have daily activities like crafts or scavenger-like hunts. At night, they have movies, and even in the lobby, they have a little area with small chairs and a TV playing Disney cartoons. Our family favorite activity was roasting marshmallows every night we were there!

A fun and educational idea is to use the in-room Wildlife field guide. Bring a pen and go on an animal scavenger hunt and see how many animals you can find! There are over 20!

animal kingdom lodge photos

Animal Kingdom Lodge Policies

Another thing to note, there are no balloons allowed so you can’t bring back a balloon from your day in the parks. Also, there are only paper straws and paper goods. No plastic. (Yay!) They also advise not hanging anything on the balcony or on your balcony rail as a giraffe may be interested by it! (Seems like fun until they spit on you or try to eat your towel.)

WiFi is free and we had no trouble connecting while we were there. You can get bed rails, highchairs, fridges, microwaves, and cribs or pack-n-plays. They are first come first serve and a small fee applies. Call Guest Services to ask! There is also coin-operated laundry for the kid accidents (peeing through diaper, spit up, juice catastrophes) or just to get a head start on the dirty laundry before you go home.

Animal Kingdom Lodge Simba’s Cubhouse

The Animal Kingdom Lodge also has Simba’s Cubhouse! A great place for kids to have fun and play while you enjoy a quiet dinner. It is open in the evening from 5pm-12am for kids 3-12 years old. One of the great things is that it is one of five on the entire Disney Property and it is so convenient to have it right in the Animal Kingdom Lodge so you don’t have to travel via bus back to your hotel. Just walk back to your room!

Animal Kingdom Lodge Food and Dining

There are 9 different places to eat, but the best for kids, in my opinion, is SANAA (a sit-down dining location) where kids can look at the animals while they eat and MARA, which is the quick dining option. Plenty of boosters and high chairs available – even at MARA. Prices are moderate. The rest are just lounges and pool bars, or fine dining, which are great but perhaps not when the kids are with you.

So, would I suggest having your family stay at the Animal Kingdom Lodge? Absolutely! Have you stayed there before? If yes, what is your favorite feature? If you haven’t yet stayed there, what are you most excited about experiencing?
 
This post is part of my April 5-April 12th Disney Preschooler post week. Leave a comment using the Rafflecopter form on each post that is part of this series (you can see them all here as they get posted), and I’ll be picking a winner for each post to win a $10 Disneystore.com gift card (all winners will be picked on April 14, 2014). Plus, for every quality comment posted by April 13, 2014, I will be donating 10 cents per comment to the Make-a-Wish Foundation to give a child the opportunity to have their Disney wish come true! (Full giveaway rules can be found here.)
 
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About Charlene DeLoach

As a Boston Mom Blogger in Massachusetts, Charlene DeLoach doesn't care about the megapixels on a smartphone. She only cares about whether it will survive being in the hands of her kids.

Comments

  1. I’d like to say the animals would be my family’s favorite part but roasting marshmallows each night might win out 🙂

  2. Russ Harrison says:

    It looks like you and your family had a great time. Any hotel with giraffes sounds too good to miss.

  3. On our last Disney trip we had planned on staying here but the stomach bug had other plans for us and we had to cancel! Love this idea for older kids, too! We stayed at the Grand Floridian which was lovely and so convenient. Great pool, too.

  4. dana triana says:

    We have visited the Animal Kingdom Lodge to eat a Boma. It’s a beautiful resort and we hope to stay some day. Thanks for all the information….it was a detailed review that helped me see why I would definitely want to stay there.

  5. Amanda Sakovitz says:

    This looks like so much fun!

  6. I never knew this existed, but it sounds like something I’d really enjoy!

  7. We haven’t stayed there.. but my kids would LOVE the animals.. I would too lol.
    It sounds like staying there is an experience in itself! With scavenger hunts and other activities… we’d probably spend more time at the hotel enjoying it. How nice it would be after a long day.. to sit out on your balcony and watch the animals.

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